Authors: Steele SC, Willoughby LM, Mills MT
Title: Learning word meanings during reading: Effects of phonological and semantic cues on children with language impairment
Source: International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology 2013 15(2): 184-197
Year: 2013
Research Design: Case Series

Phonological and semantic deficits in spoken word learning have been documented in children with language impairment (LI), and cues that address these deficits have been shown to improve their word learning performance. However, the effects of such cues on word learning during reading remain largely unexplored. This study investigated whether (a) control, (b) phonological, (c) semantic, and (d) combined phonological-semantic conditions affected semantic word learning during reading in 9- to 11-year-old children with LI (n = 12) and with typical language (TL, n = 11) from low-income backgrounds. Children were exposed to 20 novel words across these four conditions prior to reading passages containing the novel words. After reading, a dynamic semantic assessment was given, which included oral definitions, contextual clues, and multiple choices. Results indicated that the LI group performed more poorly than the TL group in phonological and combined conditions, but not in the control or semantic conditions. Also, a similar trend for both groups was suggested, with improved performance in the semantic and combined conditions relative to the control and phonological conditions. Clinical implications include a continued need for explicit instruction in semantic properties of novel words to facilitate semantic word learning during reading in children with LI.

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